The Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belem are two early 16th century historical buildings in the port of Lisbon. They symbolise the Portuguese Age of Discovery. They were built in the Portuguese Manueline style.
The Monastery and adjacent church date from 1501, and were built on orders of King Manuel I. Its church became a house of prayer for seamen leaving or entering port. It later was turned into the burial place for Portuguese royalty. The tombs of the explorers Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões are also here.
The nearby Tower of Belem was built as part of the defense system of Lisbon and ceremonial gateway into its harbour.
Visit July 1991, November 2012
Late November 2012 I revisited Belem, the neighbourhood of Lisbon that holds Portugal's most iconic set of monuments. I had but a few photos and memories of my first visit, which took place an astonishing 21 years ago! The fact that I am revisiting sites at all means that I am really getting old. The main difference between then and now is that the monuments seem whitewashed (they were very gray on my old photos), and that I now had the time and focus to look for interesting details.
Memorable in the church connected to the Monastery is of course the tomb of Vasco da Gama. I also enjoyed the two marble Transept chapels, with the royal tombs resting on elephant's backs. In the monastery is a fine refectory covered with azulejos.
Across the road lies the Tower of Belem. I think I did not enter it in 1991, so I made up for it now. I had bought a combination ticket for both sites (10 EUR). It is quite a small building, with not much inside. From the second floor a rhino sculpture is visible, a very exotic addition for a 16th century European building. Read its remarkable story here.
Lisbon in general is a bustling city: great food and nightlife. Its history is omnipresent also: it was often from here that the great European navigators sailed out to "discover" the world. My best memories of my trip in 1991 are the fresh seafood, and a night at a Cape Verdian dance club: a new world disclosed itself for me, and I love Cape Verdian - Brasilian - Portuguese music since that moment.
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
|John Booth (New Zealand):|
The most exciting feature of visiting Belem for me is travelling there from Baixa on the old wooden trams that creak and groan their way to the site. I don't know how much longer these trams will be operating as they are gradually being replaced by sleek, modern trams that travel faster and quieter.
| Date posted: March 2010|
|David Cris?stomo (Portugal):|
I don't live in Lisbon, but I know the city like the palm of my hand. Since I was a child, I would go visit it's beutiful streets and palaces. The Monastery and Tower are indeed two of the most fascinating atracions of the portuguese capital. But recomend other places like: the Presidential Museum, the Belem Palace, the Ajuda Palace, the Espirito Santo Foundation Museum, the Glubenkian Museum, the National Museum of Ancient Art, the National Coach Museum, "Sé" - Lisbon's Catedral, Basilica da Estrela, the Roman Theater Museum, the Azulejo National Museum and St. George Castel.
| Date posted: June 2008|
|Frederik Dawson (Netherlands):|
The best sight of Lisbon and the tourist icon of Portugal are comprised to become this world heritage. The best sight is Monastery of the Hieronymite or can be called Monastery of Jerónimos. This monastery is a real gem of Lisbon built in Manueline style or Portuguese baroque with unbelievable details of stone carving. The monastery can be separated into two parts, which open to visitor, the church and the cloister.
The church and its great height of the transept is the best example of this uniquely Portuguese architectural style. This place is also the resting place of great discoverer Vasco da Gama which is not surprising at all as this church was really bound with this man and the age of discovery. If you think you see the best part of the monastery, you are wrong. The cloister is even more magnificent with brightly sand stone with fountain and green lawn, truly a magical sight. The cloister also has a museum that tells the history of the church and also the world. The church is free but you have to pay some admission fee for the cloister.
The nearby Tower of Belém is also built in Manueline and was used as the fort to protect Lisbon in the center of Tejo River. However, now the fort is near the shoreline as the river stream changes its way. The tower is very nice and become a tourist icon for Portugal, so every tourist has to come to take photo with this place.
Belém is a very nice area of Lisbon with many beautiful parks, the Discovery Monument and the Presidential Palace. Strolling in Belém is a great contrast with Baixa and gives a new image to Lisbon. As these two places are the must for every tourist with good reason, so if you miss these places I don’t know what to say. And I totally agreed with Ian Cade, Pasteis de Belem is a must.
| Date posted: September 2006|
|ivan mandy (Philippines):|
This monastery is jaw-dropping marvelous! And so was the who city of Lisbon! I love the idea of integrating natural forms to gothic architecture to produce this masterpiece of the so-called Manueline style. And best thing, the monument just got cleaned up (restored) when I was there so all its delicate details were flaunted in their full glory!
| Date posted: July 2006|
|Ian Cade (England):|
Lisbon was a revelation, I went there expecting a second rate city and left with the feeling that it is one of Europe’s best capitals. Firstly the UNESCO sights in Belem were impressive, the Tower has the a true picture postcard setting, and the Monastery is thoroughly impressive, if you have even the smallest interest in the Age of Discoveries this is a true pilgrimage spot, departing from this spot Vasco d agama and Fernão de Magalhães ‘discovered’ vast chunks of the world. The waterside area also has other attractions such as the discoveries monument and the Ponte 25 de Abril. Also worth a quick try is Pasteis de Belem special custard tarts that are only available in this area (don’t make the mistake like me of saying they just taste like all other custard tarts, desculpe Rita!). As for the rest of the city there is so much to see, the centre is full of squares and boulevards, the Alfama district is the tangled Moorish area that leads to the Castelo Sao Jorge, the perfect place to watch the sun set. Then just head to Baira Alto for some of the best and most densely packed bars in Europe, which also afford great views across the city and river. All in all Lisbon is a confident city that offers some of the best experiences of any European capital.
|Jeremy Tollpuddle (England):|
I had been told not to expect much of Lisbon, and therefore was greatly surprised to find it was a magnificent city. The area at Belem is fantastic, especially if you have any remote interets in explorers!! the tower is just in the perfect Postcard setting and the whole of the river front is impressive. For good night life try Baira Alto which has a huge density of bars and terraces over looking the city. The Alfama district below the castle is well worth a few hours getting lost in aswell! Lisbomn makes a great base for exploring sintra and the three Monestry? Cathedrals to the North on the UNESCO list. but to be honest I could spend a full week in Lisbon and feel hugly impressed
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